—Gary Feinman, The Field Museum
“A wide-ranging examination of how various factors, including intentionally and spontaneously developed institutions and behaviors, have promoted collective action. . . . the book will encourage dialogue between the presently uncooperative camps of ‘collective action theorists’ and ‘evolutionary psychologists’.”
—The Quarterly Review of Biology
In How Humans Cooperate, Richard E. Blanton and Lane F. Fargher take a new approach to investigating human cooperation, developed from the vantage point of an "anthropological imagination." Drawing on the discipline’s broad and holistic understanding of humans in biological, social, and cultural dimensions and across a wide range of temporal and cultural variation, the authors unite psychological and institutional approaches by demonstrating the interplay of institution building and cognitive abilities of the human brain.
Blanton and Fargher develop an approach that is strongly empirical, historically deep, and more synthetic than other research designs, using findings from fields as diverse as neurobiology, primatology, ethnography, history, art history, and archaeology. While much current research on collective action pertains to local-scale cooperation, How Humans Cooperate puts existing theories to the test at larger scales in markets, states, and cities throughout the Old and New Worlds.
This innovative book extends collective action theory beyond Western history and into a broadly cross-cultural dimension, places cooperation in the context of large and complex human societies, and demonstrates the interplay of collective action and aspects of human cognitive ability. By extending the scope and content of collective action theory, the authors find a fruitful new path to understanding human cooperation.